Types of Hedge Accounting: Definition, Example & Differences

30 May, 2024
10 mins
Rachelle Fisher, AVP, Digital Transformation

Table of Content

Key Takeaways
What is Hedge Accounting?
What are the Three Different Types of Accounting Hedge Models?
What is a Fair Value Hedge?
What is a Cash Flow Hedge?
What is a Net Investment Hedge?
What’s the Difference Between a Cash Flow Hedge and a Fair Value Hedge?
Curate your Own Account Hedging Strategy via HighRadius Cash Forecasting Software
The Bottom Line

Key Takeaways

  • Hedge accounting mitigates volatility in financial statements caused by fluctuations in the fair value or cash flows of hedged items.
  • Three primary types of hedge accounting models are fair value hedges, cash flow hedges, and net investment hedges, each addressing different risks.
  • Fair value hedges aim to offset fluctuations in the fair value of assets or liabilities; cash flow hedges minimize future cash flow risks; and net investment hedges mitigate foreign currency exposure.


Hedge Accounting is a technique used by companies to reduce the effects of fluctuations of foreign currency or any other risk on the financial accounts. It works within the financial process and uses accounting tools to minimize the influence of market volatility on earnings. This makes their financial performance more predictable, enabling investors to get a better understanding of the business’s operational performance.

There are different types of Accounting hedges each useful for dealing with a specific form of risk. For instance, the firms use fair value hedges to protect changes in the fair value of the assets or liabilities; cash flow hedges could be used to manage risks due to volatility in the cash flows that are related to the anticipated transactions. These strategies not only help the firm in risk management but also ensure compliance with the relevant accounting standards widely in use. thus giving enough light to offer clear and responsible financial reports. Knowledge of these specific forms of accounting hedges is crucial to firms operating in environments with fluctuating prices and helping them avoid significant value changes in their financial statements.

What is Hedge Accounting?

Hedge accounting is an accounting practice where the entries utilized to adjust the fair value of the financial instrument also include the opposing hedge value. In simpler terms, hedge accounting enables you to offset any changes in the value of the financial instrument by the change in the value of the associated hedge. 

One of the major concerns with hedge accounting is the significant volatility resulting from the frequent revaluation of financial instruments to their ‘fair value’, also known as mark-to-market. This volatility is managed by accounting for the instrument and the hedge together as one entry, which balances out and negates any opposite movement. Hedge accounting is beneficial for companies that deal with market risks associated with fluctuations in interest rates, foreign exchange rates, and stock markets. 

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What are the Three Different Types of Accounting Hedge Models?

Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) Accounting Standards Codification (ASC) topic 815 addresses derivatives and hedging. There are three different types of hedge accounting models, as described in ASC 815:

  1. Fair value hedges
  2. Cash flow hedges
  3. Net investment hedges

All three categories of hedge accounting are distinguished by their accounting and reporting requirements. Let’s understand them in detail.

What is a Fair Value Hedge?

A fair value hedge is an instrument used to mitigate the company’s exposure to volatility and fluctuations in the fair value of the asset or liability. To be eligible for hedge accounting, changes in the fair value of the underlying asset or liability must have the potential to affect the company’s earnings.

Fair value hedge example

Here’s a fair value hedge accounting example to understand the above-mentioned concept in detail. Consider Company A, a manufacturing corporation that owns a raw material inventory worth $100,000. Due to market volatility, Company A is concerned that the fair value of its inventory might decline to $80,000.

To hedge against this potential loss in value, Company A decides to enter into a futures contract for the same quantity of raw material, which is currently valued at $100,000. This futures contract will allow Company A to sell the raw material at the current market price in the future, effectively locking in its value. 

If the fair value of the raw material inventory decreases to $80,000 as anticipated, the value of the futures contract will increase, offsetting the decrease in the inventory’s value. Conversely, if the fair value of the inventory remains at $100,000 or increases, the value of the futures contract will decrease accordingly, but Company A will still benefit from the stable value of its inventory. 

In this case, Company A is employing a fair value hedging strategy g to reduce its exposure to changes in the fair value of its inventory by using a futures contract. This helps in maintaining a balance in the company’s assets and liabilities despite market fluctuations

What is a Cash Flow Hedge?

A cash flow hedge is utilized to minimize the risk of future cash flow fluctuations arising from an already-held asset or liability or a planned transaction. According to the International Accounting Standards (IAS), such hedges can qualify for hedge accounting if the changes in the cash flow can potentially affect the income statement.

Some of the items that could be hedged under the cash flow hedge include fluctuating interest rates on assets or liabilities, foreign currency-denominated assets or liabilities, and forecasted transactions such as acquisitions, sales, and borrowings. 

Cash flow hedge example

To understand the cash flow hedge better, let us take the example of a company XER which has upcoming expenses related to buying inventory. They plan to purchase 1000 tonnes of steel at $2000 per tonne, anticipating a cash outflow of $200,000 to purchase the steel. However, due to market fluctuations, the steel price now rises to $3000 per tonne, resulting in an increased cash outflow of $300,000. This translates to an additional cash outflow of $100,000 that the company had not accounted for. This is where a cash flow hedge comes in handy. By entering into a future contract, Company XER can lock in $2000 per tonne as steel price through a forward contract. Then, irrespective of the increase in the price of steel, the company would still make the same net payment, and thus, the forward contract is the hedging tool.

What is a Net Investment Hedge?

Net investment hedge is concerned with the hedging of a company’s foreign currency exposure, minimizing the chances of fluctuations in reported earnings that could arise from the future sale of a net investment in a foreign operation.

Net investment hedge example

For instance, Company A, a US-based multinational with a subsidiary in Europe (Company B), faces currency risk due to fluctuations in the exchange rate between USD and EUR. To safeguard its investment in Company B from currency depreciation, Company A employs a net investment hedge strategy. This involves using forward exchange contracts or currency swaps to offset potential losses arising from unfavorable exchange rate movements. For instance, Company A might enter into a forward contract to sell euros and buy US dollars at a predetermined rate, thus mitigating the impact of EUR depreciation on its investment.

However, net investment hedging entails complexities and risks, including accounting treatment under relevant financial reporting standards (e.g., ASC 830 in the US) and potential costs associated with derivative contracts. Despite these challenges, such hedging strategies enhance the quality of financial reporting by directly converting the value of Company A’s investment in Company B to its functional currency, reducing uncertainty. Therefore, careful evaluation of hedging strategies in consultation with financial professionals is essential for aligning risk management objectives with regulatory requirements and optimizing financial performance.

What’s the Difference Between a Cash Flow Hedge and a Fair Value Hedge?

A cash flow hedge is when one has a risk associated with the variability of the cash flow of a recognized asset or liability or a forecasted transaction. It’s designed to hedge accounts that are linked to a particular risk. A fair value hedge is where the fair value of an already recognized asset or liability changes. It aims at hedging changes in fair value that are due to a particular risk. For instance, market fluctuations in interest rates or product prices. 

Find below a detailed comparison of the differences between cash flow hedge and fair value hedge. 


Cash Flow Hedge

Fair Value Hedge


Manage cash flow variability arising from specific risks

Manage the fair value variability arising from specific risks


Cash flows of recognized assets/liabilities or forecasted transactions

The fair value of recognized assets, liabilities, or firm commitments

Risk Mitigated

Variability in cash flows

Variability in fair value

Accounting Treatment

Changes in the fair value of the hedging instrument recognized in other comprehensive income (OCI) and reclassified to profit or loss when the hedged item affects profit or loss

Changes in the fair value of the hedging instrument and hedged item are recognized in profit or loss simultaneously, offsetting each other


Curate your Own Account Hedging Strategy via HighRadius Cash Forecasting Software

Cash forecasts are critical for growth since they lead strategic financial and investment decisions, changing the company’s future and increasing profits. 

As a part of curating the best hedging strategy for businesses, currency rates are typically maintained through integration with a third-party service on HighRadius software that provides real-time foreign exchange rate risk updates. These are updated regularly to reflect the current market conditions.

HighRadius cash flow forecast can help you benefit in the following ways.

  • 95% Global Inflows Forecast Accuracy
  • 95% Global Outflows Forecast Accuracy
  • 100% Automated Bank Integration
  • 98% Automated Cash Flow Category Tagging
  • Increase Forecasting Productivity by 70

Scenario analysis is also a critical tool for businesses, that enables them to predict and prepare for various outcomes that could impact their operations. By creating different scenarios and analyzing their potential impact, businesses can better plan and adjust their account hedging strategies to minimize risks and maximize growth opportunities.

The Bottom Line

Hedge accounting serves as a crucial tool for companies to manage risks stemming from market fluctuations and currency volatility. By employing various techniques such as fair value hedges and cash flow hedges, companies can mitigate the impact of these uncertainties on their financial statements, ensuring greater stability in reported earnings and financial position. Through transparent and consistent financial reporting, companies not only enhance investor confidence but also navigate turbulent market conditions with greater resilience.

As businesses continue to face evolving risks, understanding the nuances and differences among accounting hedges remains imperative for maintaining financial stability and driving long-term growth.

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1) What is hedge fund accounting?

Hedge fund accounting involves the financial reporting and record-keeping of hedge funds, a sub-sector in the funds industry. It includes routine tasks such as tracking investment performance, calculating management and performance fees, reporting regulations, and using triplet call structures and highly advanced valuation models.

2) What is hedge accounting for derivatives?

Hedge accounting for derivatives involves aligning the recognition of gains or losses on hedging instruments with the changes in the fair value or cash flows of the hedged items. It aims to mitigate volatility in financial statements caused by fluctuations in derivative values used for hedging. 

3) Under U.S. GAAP, which of the following conditions must be met to qualify for hedge accounting?

Under U.S. GAAP, to qualify for hedge accounting, entities must meet certain criteria, including formal documentation of the hedging relationship, demonstration of the hedge’s effectiveness in offsetting specific risks, and ongoing assessment and documentation of hedge effectiveness.

4) Why is cash the best way to hedge a portfolio?

Cash is considered the best way to hedge a portfolio due to its stability and liquidity. Unlike other assets, cash retains its value during market downturns and provides immediate access to funds, offering a reliable buffer against market volatility and uncertainty.

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